We know... shopping for a house is the fun part. You're ready to go hunting online and spend weekends wandering through open houses. But, there's a little bit of homework you should do first, before you fall in love with a home you may not be able to afford.
Start with an evaluation of your financial health. Figure out how much money you have for a down payment. Down payments are typically 5 to 20 percent of the price of the home.
Don't drain your savings account. Be be sure to keep enough for an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to have three to six months of living expenses to cover unexpected costs.
A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness. A low credit score can keep you from qualifying for the best interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay moving into a new home and take steps to raise your score.
You should review your credit score yearly at AnnualCreditReport.com.
To learn more and get information about improving your credit score, visit www.myfico.com.
Create a hypothetical budget for your new home. Find the average cost of utilities, maintenance, real estate taxes, insurance, and possibly home owner association fees. Experts recommend your payment be less than 35% of your monthly income.
There will also be costs associated with closing the sale. Your lender will provide you with an estimate based on the home you choose and you will need these funds available the day of closing.
Pro Tip: Your payment can fluctuate year to year. Be sure you know all the parts of a mortgage payment.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan before you start punching prices into your Zillow search. Talk with a mortgage loan officer about what is a reasonable limit for your finances. Once you review the mortgage process, available programs and loan features, your lender will pre-approve you for a maximum loan amount.
Remember, just because you may be approved for more than you are willing to spend does not mean you should go outside your personal budget. Stick to a price you are comfortable with.
Once you have a rough idea of what you can afford for a monthly payment, you're ready to look at the purchase price of your future home. This is the info you will need to utilize the mortgage calculator:
This is a great start to figuring what you may be able to afford in your area. For a more detailed estimate, schedule an appointment with an FSB Home Loan Expert.
You have the down payment saved. You've checked your credit score. You did the math, and you have a good idea of what you can afford. It's time to get pre-approved and buy your new home! Just fill out the online application and schedule an appointment with a lender.
Call, Zoom, or in-person. Schedule an appointment to meet with the lender of your choice, at a time that works for you. They can answer your questions and walk you through the home loan process.
Complete the online application as best as you can. It's ok if there are some blank spaces. A lender will contact you to complete the process and get you a pre-approval letter so you can start shopping.
The FSB Blog is full of helpful tips about every aspect of your future home - from saving a down payment, to moving tips, and home maintenance. New articles are posted all the time, so check back often.